By Norman Roper, Guest blogger In 2007, as I was trying to complete a crossword puzzle, the lines on the page started going wiggly. I then went to an eye specialist, who diagnosed me with macular degeneration. I subsequently had 27 injections in my eyes – 13 in the right one and 14 in my left eye. In 2013, I underwent major heart surgery. Once I woke up from the procedure, I could not see – caused by the anesthetic which was administered. I was registered blind in 2014. Prior to the procedure, I was told that an existing eye problem could be exacerbated by heart surgery so I was aware there was a risk involved. The struggles which I face due to my vision loss include the inability to drive and not being able to play football, a sport which I very much enjoyed. In my quest to improve other areas of my daily life which are severely affected by my blindness – notably reading – I have tried several different assistive technology devices. I heard about OrCam through a monthly newsletter that I receive, called Infound. I discovered OrCam before Blind Veterans UK did! I called the organisation and told them about the new, revolutionary technology which is now available in the UK. My initial thought about OrCam was that it’s absolutely brilliant, due to the wearable device’s ability to instantly read any printed text, from any surface. I received a free thirty day trial of OrCam through Blind Veterans UK. The organisation rang me up after the month’s trial and asked how it went. I responded that they would need a posse of armed men to get it off me! OrCam has given me complete independence as the device enables me to read newspapers, magazines and books. I also use my OrCam device for reading restaurant menus when I go out for dinner. OrCam has helped me regain my independence in so many ways, most notably helping my marriage! My wife got fed up reading articles to me from the newspaper. Now that I have my OrCam to perform the reading, my wife is quite pleased! I am a veteran, having served in The Royal Navy for ten years. I am also a member of The National Association of Ex-Police Officers (I was in the police force for thirty years). I am involved with St. Dunstan’s Blind Veterans Centre (which was founded in World War One – originally for veterans blinded in combat, but in 1985 was changed to support all ex-servicemen and women who lost their sight). A blind veteran who lost his sight overnight as a result of a tank accident spoke at St. Dunstan’s and serves as an inspiration for me to seek support and improve my quality of life. I am absolutely over the moon with OrCam! It’s a fantastic innovation which I have already recommended to many people, and would recommend to anyone who is visually impaired. I think OrCam would also be greatly beneficial for children with dyslexia.
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